Govt to Start 5-Hour Long Load Shedding Across Pakistan


Newstoday:  As summer approaches, citizens of Pakistan are bracing themselves for a possible 3-5 hours of load-shedding, a phenomenon where electricity is cut off for a period of time, due to a reduction in furnace oil imports for electricity generation. The government has resorted to this measure because of the shortage of US dollars, which has severely impacted the country's energy sector. In fact, an Energy Ministry official has revealed that Pakistan is currently facing an energy shortfall of about 4,000MW. This has resulted in power outages lasting for 2-3 hours, much to the frustration of the general public. To address this crisis, the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has decided to close commercial markets at 8 PM to save electricity in the new fiscal year. However, this move is expected to face opposition from traders and may prove difficult to implement. The NEC has also revealed that Pakistan's overall generation capacity stands at 44,000MW, while consumption is 21,500MW. Despite this, electricity customers who have already paid almost Rs. 900 billion in capacity charges will be charged Rs. 1,400 billion in 2023-24 due to an increase in the tariff structure for capacity payments next year. In addition to these challenges, line and recovery losses have been on the rise, which means that increased generation entails additional losses. 

According to the Energy Ministry official, hydropower is not being utilized to its full capacity of 9,400MW, compared to the present average generation of close to 4,000MW. This is a significant concern, as hydrogenation from Tarbela and Mangla's main dams is dependent on water releases, which varies per province. Moreover, ongoing construction at Tarbela has led to a loss of approximately 1,410MW of electricity, further aggravating the situation. Another major setback is the Neelum-Jehlum Hydropower Project, which is currently non-operational, resulting in a 969MW shortage. Furthermore, construction challenges and changes in water flows based on provinces have meant that the Tarbela dam is generating little electricity. Presently, powerhouses are operational at roughly 13-64 percent of their capacity, which is a significant waste of resources. 

The Energy Ministry official has also highlighted that the Independent Power Projects have an installed capacity of over 17,000MW but are currently generating only 7,700MW, which shows that they are operating at 45 percent capacity due to the prevalent liquidity crunch. In conclusion, Pakistan's energy sector is facing numerous challenges that require urgent attention. The government must take bold steps to address the shortfall of US dollars and to ensure that the country's vast energy resources are utilized to their full potential. The public is eagerly anticipating a swift and effective solution to this crisis, which has caused significant inconvenience and disruption to their daily lives

Sabahat Abid


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